The Reconnoiters


Laser-printed screenplays on coloured paper


16.5cm x 37cm


MID-SHOT: We are looking down on an architectural model. The camera simulates an aerial shot, passing over the structure, giving a clear impression that we are looking at a finished building project. The model looks composited from other projects and is chronologically ambivalent. The camera continues to pan and gently zoom across the model. The vantage point shifts to a horizontality. Just when we are at the moment of grasping a first-person perspective, the camera swoops upwards framing an interior scene. The camera fixes on a very large table with a reflective surface, there is a drawing of an elderly man framed above the far wall. The room is not much bigger than the table. There are 18 men and women tightly seated around its edge. Some members are obscured and all are drably dressed.


The Architects’ (dir: Peter Kehane) is based upon original writings by architect Michael Kny; who in the early 1980s, was commissioned by the GDR to design a multi-functional housing project in Marzahn, Berlin. Kny (in the film, Daniel Brenner) intends to build a new kind of housing estate for the GDR as a progressive alternative to the ubiquity of East German prefab architecture. Brenner assembles a team of architects to realise the project. The film centres on the struggle between the architects’ collective ideals, their individual interests and the oppressive administration of the GDR. Filming took place between October – December 1989 and was the last DEFA film to go into production before the end of the GDR.


Three-short screenplay scenarios were developed from the original film, focussing in on moments of interruption between the story, unfolding historical events and imagined encounters. Firstly a pre-production meeting between Kehane and the DEFA in Potsdam. Secondly the paralleling dramatisation of real-life emigration scenes at the border-crossing and finally the moment travel restrictions are lifted and the film crew become aware of the newly opened border.


Begehungen 2020, Entwürfnisse: Ring 8, Chemnitz. August 2020

Research Biennial, Royal College of Art, London. April 2016